Catholic University used a torrid second half to overcome a double-digit deficit and defeat The University of Scranton men's basketball team, 81-79, on Saturday afternoon in the Long Center.
The loss drops Scranton (11-12, 7-5 Landmark) into a fourth-place tie with Catholic (13-10, 7-5) in the Landmark Conference with two games to play. Catholic holds the tiebreaker over the Royals thanks to a sweep of the season series as the teams battle for a spot in the four-team postseason.
Two games remain in the regular season with six teams still in contention for a playoff spot. The Royals can still finish anywhere from second through sixth. They finish their season with two road games next week – at Susquehanna on Wednesday, Feb. 14, at 7 p.m., and at Goucher on Saturday, Feb. 17, at 2 p.m.
Scranton took a 48-35 halftime lead on Saturday thanks to nine first-half 3-pointers, four of which came from senior guard Mitch Cross (Marriottsville, Md./Loyola-Blakefield). The Royals stretched their lead to 18 early in the second half when senior guard Ethan Danzig (Clarks Green, Pa./Abington Heights) buried his third 3-poiner of the game.
But Catholic slowly chipped away and eventually cut the deficit to single digits with 10:59 left. The Cardinals didn't stop there, using an 8-1 run to take a 76-75 lead with 3:43 remaining.
Scranton tied the game twice, including with 12 seconds left when senior forward Drew Schankweiler (Mechanicsburg, Pa./Mechanicsburg) hit a pair of free throws to make it 79-all. But Catholic's Jay Howard was fouled on a shot inside with 2.2 seconds left and made both free throws. The Royals were unable to get off a shot from midcourt at the buzzer.
The Cardinals shot 60 percent (18-for-30) from the field in the second half, including 4-for-6 from 3-point range.
Schankweiler had another huge game, finishing with 19 points, 15 rebounds, three assists, a block and a steal. It was his third straight double-double and 10th of the season. Cross also had 19 points along with five assists and an assist.
Sophomore forward Matthew Mancuso (Bridgewater, N.J./Bridgewater-Raritan) had 14 points, four assists and two rebounds. Danzig finished with 12 points, two assists, two rebounds and a steal.
The Royals shot 50.9 percent (27-for-53) from the field, including 13-for-26 from 3-point range. They also made 12 of 15 (80 percent) at the free throw line and won the rebounding battle, 33-24. Scranton also committed 17 turnovers.
Howard led all scorers with 32 points for Catholic. Jimmy Golaszewski added 21 points for the Cardinals, Brandon Easton had 13 and Andre Mitchell chipped in with 10. Catholic shot 54.2 percent (32-for-59) from the field, including 10-for-18 (55.6 percent) from 3-point range. The Cardinals made 7 of 11 (63.6 percent) at the free throw line and committed 11 turnovers.
Scranton returns to action on Wednesday, Feb. 14, when they travel to Selinsgrove, Pa. to take on Susquehanna at 7 p.m.